Blood Brothers Theatre Review Essay
We visited the Phoenix Theatre on the fourth of October and when we the play started I was drawn to the actual setting of the stage; firstly contrast in the set and how it represented the two side’s class divide. Mrs Johnstone’s huge family all cramped up in the small, crumbling, graffiti covered terraced council housing with the rest of the workers and Mrs Lyon’s large elegant suburban detached house with is wrought iron street lamp and large windows and also with the interior of the houses only the kitchen of Mrs Johnstone’s house is shown overflowing with cooking utensils and laundry and other domestic trivialities but not a chair in sight which means Mrs Johnstone is always either shown standing up or sitting on the step whereas Mrs Lyons living room is shown with its tasteful decorating, art deco lamps, corner pillars and a large sofa in the middle where she is often shown sitting on offering another contrast between her and Mrs Johnstone.
Another feature of the setting I particularly enjoyed was the raked stage which allowed better levels for the actors the stage is heavily raked, meaning that a lot of the action is easy to see from all over the house. The set is simple and remains stationary, creating a focused performance space and emphasised certain scenes like when Mrs Lyons suggested Mrs Johnstone give her one of the twins she upstaged Mrs Johnstone who had to turn to respond and also allows for multiple scenes such as when Mrs Lyons revealed Eddie and Linda’s ‘affair’ she turned Micky to face upstage where Eddie and Linda are walking together, which emphasises the cross cutting of that scene and another feature of the raked stage is that it simply allowed a better view of the Performance for the audience.
The Play began with a frozen image of the dead twins seen through a red gauze curtain and the narrator gives the lines he is to repeat at the end This use of Dramatic Irony means you sympathise more with the characters knowing the fate that awaits them and it is also a very dramatic way to begin the show immediately drawing you in making ask questions which of course are answered throughout the duration of the play. The dramatic irony also makes you play closer attention to the play as you are compelled to see how the situation could have been avoided and it is shown through foreshadowing that all that would happen was set in stone from when a seven year old micky pretended to shoot a seven year old Eddie to when a seventeen year old Sammy pulled a knife out on the bus. These glimpses into their future might have been missed if you weren’t completely Hooked on the play and so the use of framing and dramatic irony means you were absorbed in the play completely.
The costume in the play is a strong representation of the social status of the characters and so everything about Eddie and Mickey’s clothes represents key parts of their life and how they have added to their character as their costumes are a large representative of the whole nature versus nurture theme of the play. Eddie as a seven year old wears very neatly pressed v neck sweater over an immaculately white shirt and short trousers whereas mickey was wearing a jumper so ragged and dirty its quite hard to determine what colour it is, it’s full of holes and stretches to well over his knees indicating it is most likely a hand me down.
The contrast in the childhood upbringing of the two characters is apparent in their clothing, the closest Eddie has ever come to second hand clothes is when he meets mickey on the other hand mickey has probably grown up with his siblings old clothes and toys et cetera. The adolescent Mickey wears fashionable denim and leather. Which shows him at what was the peak of his life, the happiest his is to be in the play. The adolescent Eddie wears a very smart school uniform The adult Mickey again wears a baggy jumper. However this is when he is dominated by medicine. His clothing also illustrates the loss of that huge childhood energy he had at the beginning of the play.
It is hard to determine what purpose the narrator serves. On stage he appears dressed in a smart black suit –reminiscent of funeral garb so sort of fore shadowing but the costume his gives him a neutral status, as we cannot identify anything about his character. It gives him a sense of anonymity throughout the show, and the fact that the other characters do not acknowledge him gives him a ghostlike quality except when he takes a picture of. His main role throughout the show is to act as a constant reminder to us of the Brothers’ tragic fate – exemplified in the musical number ‘Shoes upon the Table’, which is repeated Throughout both acts of the show. It is also notable that as the show commences with the scene of The finale, his attire is like that of somebody who is attending a funeral – and it seems that he is dressed for such an occasion throughout the entire play. The characters seem to look through him or just avoid him until Linda asks him to take their photograph and it seems as soon as she does this their lives begin to go wrong, coincidence or were their lives touched by evil
The use of sound is possibly the most powerful dramatic medium used in the play; the songs are extremely well written fit immaculately with the themes of the play and the lyrics and melody are re used throughout the play. Music was used to draw emotion from the audience. It also helped to move along the action and always conveyed a theme, message or feeling. Echo was also used in parts of songs. However it was recorded and therefore gave a very surreal and artificial effect. The music and lighting combined at the beginning of the play to create both a DRAMATIC EFFECT and a SAD ATMOSPHERE which worked very well to draw you in. The use of the orchestra collaborated well with the songs.
The gunshot at the end of the play worked well as it shocked the audience despite them knowing the ending. There was a great contrast in lighting between the countryside and the city. In the countryside it was bright and the scenery consisted of typical green rolling hills and a crystal blue sky. However in the city the lighting was much darker and the scenery consisted buildings. When the front door of Mrs Johnstone house opened light flooded on to the stage.
The purpose of this was to generate the idea of presence of Mrs Johnstone and her children living inside the house. The stage was lit up with a red light at the beginning of the end. This was used as an indicator of the bloodshed to follow. A red light also appeared when Mrs Lyons came on to the stage. This illustrated her madness and guilt stricken conscious. This was also done by the use of blackouts. A blue light appeared at the end when the narrator came on to the stage and sang. To illustrate the madness of Mrs Lyons in song flashing lights came on. This made the audience feel uneasy and uncomfortable with the character of Mrs Lyons.
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